Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Adventist Review and Theistic Evolution

The Adventist Review has weighed in on the idea that Theistic Evolution should be accepted in the Adventist church. The article by E. Edward Zinke is entitled Creation and the Certainty of the Second Coming asks numerous questions. Strangely though it quotes no one who believes in Theistic Evolution, it does not even seem to paraphrase any beliefs of Theistic Evolutionists. The questions therefore are meant as rhetorical devices to assert that Theistic Evolution has no reason for their beliefs, that it destroys the Gospel. In some cases the article simply makes absurd statements which have no merit at all. For example:

Spirituality matured through the process of evolution, they say, and finally reached an evolutionary peak in Jesus.”

Who are the “they” apparently not important enough for the author to identify, after all there are thousands or millions of beliefs out there if someone believes it then I guess that is all we need to know. Do you think that the Adventist Review will go out and ask a Christian who is a Theistic Evolutionist to contribute an article to the Review? I highly doubt it. If they publish a propaganda article like this they have no intention of actually dealing with what Theistic Evolutionists really believe. Even so the rest of us should realize that it is unwise to get the idea of what someone believes from people who don’t believe it. In other words you don’t go to Buddhist to find out what a Christian believes. The Buddhist may have a good idea if he has studied Christianity but when he tells you about Christians he will use statements by actual Christians. Objectivity is often not found in the ranks of the opposition to something. It is to those objective people that we should seek our knowledge not the people who simply say “they say”.

The author says:
“If we do not accept the biblical account of Creation, we are left with many, many questions, a few guesses, and no answers. We have an uncertain identity. The nature and even the existence of God are called into question. Our future is in limbo….”

This is a typical statement by traditional Adventists. By Biblical account they mean literal account. They ignore the possibility of the account being a myth used to teach people. If one believes the story is not meant in a literal way then that means that they don’t believe in the Biblical account of Creation. Because you don’t believe in the account the way they believe in the account. See my article Genesis in Symbol and Substance.

Included in the many questions the author asks is this:

“What implication does theistic evolution have for the way God acts in the world? If God either cannot or does not behave in the way that the Genesis Creation account describes, then what does that say for other reports of His activities in the rest of the Bible? Did God bring about a worldwide flood and guide Noah’s ark to safety?...”
What about the other questions about Noah’s flood, that God repented of making man, that God killed every living creature on the planet? There are whole hosts of questions there and that is before we even get to the scientific implications and evidence or better said lack of evidence of a worldwide flood. Clearly there is no shortage of questions regarding how God interacts with the world and they aren’t really answered any too clearly in the book of Genesis if you take the stories as literal. The article continues:

“Suppose God did bring about life on our planet by the process of theistic evolution, developing it through the survival of the fittest from simple life forms to the complexity of a moral and intelligent creature called Homo sapiens. What then would be the meaning of sin and salvation? Is sin simply a lack of progress? At what point could humans be considered to be created in the image of God and therefore morally responsible?”

Would it really matter? Would sin be anything different from what it is now if we did not simply suddenly come into existence. None of us living now or in the Bible times simply suddenly existed like the Adam and Eve in Genesis. Is sin different for someone who has never heard the Genesis story? Adam and Eve and their story do not define sin, selfishness and distrust define sin. But if you don’t know anything about God how can you be distrustful of Him? Sin then is still that virus that infects us with selfishness and hurts us and causes us to hurt others. Salvation would likewise be the healing of that situation. The God who heals would be the same God even if the method of creation was different from the presumed literal account of Genesis.

Sadly this is the kind of article that the Adventist church will produce and market to the membership. Where tradition is the method of understanding and any attempt to scientifically and rationally deal with the Bible and reality is decried as “Relying upon human ability to discover “truth,”… For some reason traditional Adventists don’t think that their interpretations are in any way based upon human reasoning, their default is that their interpretation is not their interpretation it is the literal word of God. Any other interpretation then is based upon human reasoning.


Bulworth said...

“If we do not accept the biblical account of Creation, we are left with many, many questions, a few guesses, and no answers. We have an uncertain identity. The nature and even the existence of God are called into question. Our future is in limbo….”

The author of this quip doesn't seem to understand that a literal interpretation itself leaves "many, many questions, a few guesses, and no answers."

Al said...

In theistic evolution are there angels?

Ron Corson said...

yes theistic evolution can have angels and even demons. We just don't try to tell people how angels were created or how angels evolved into demons.

Elaine Nelson said...

Why not accept the earlier account of Creation found in Genesis 2. That eliminates the 6-day story.